Happy belated new year!!!  I've had a wacky start to the new year, hence my silence.  My apologies.

A few quick observations & thoughts I've been meaning to share with the world:

The next big thing in software is WPF & WPF/e.  No doubt about it.  I've spent most of the past two weeks looking at innovative applications that have been created by companies in Asia who are using our new technologies.  The apps have simply blown me away.  I'll share some of the best of class with you over coming weeks.  All I know is that if I were to leave MS anytime soon, it would very likely be to go do something with these technologies.  It's the next big thing.

On the plane ride back from Narita, though, I thought through the implications from a business perspective.  I believe that three classes of venture-fundable startup opportunities will emerge over the coming 24 months:

  • Content applications that work just as well online as offline - the New York Times Reader is a fascinating "pioneer" application.  Thanks to the app, I read the NYT on planes just as I read it in the office.  You have to check it out & let your imagination run wild about the possibilities that this type of user experience can allow.
  • Line of business applications that are actually usable.  For example, at MS we have an incredibly clunky expense report application that people *dread* entering information into.  Technologies we are rolling out will make it easier for designers & developers to create more usable applications that work with existing databases & information systems.  Entire companies will be created around improving LOB applications necessary to make the corporate world run more smoothly.
  • On the subject of usability, we're at the beginning of a renaissance of usability in the Internet -- existing sites & portals will gradually morph into something between a web site and an application.  Over time, users won't know the difference aside from things being a lot more intuitive & meeting needs in a much better, more elegant way.

There is also an emerging opportunity for small consulting firms to bring knowledge of these new technologies in other fields...media, interactive design, advertising, etc.  When corporations and advertising agencies begin to see the types of things our technologies can allow, a lot of "client" business will open up for companies who have developed an expertise in WPF & WPF/e.  Not a venture-fundable opportunity perhaps, but something that will nonetheless make some people a lot of money.

It really is a new wave in application development somewhere between where the web is today and where client applications are today.  It's an exciting time that is sure to unlock billions, if not trillions of dollars of new shareholder value.  I really do think we're at the beginning of the next new thing.

On another note, Kevin Bier, Group Manager for Expression Media, has just launched his blog.  I've worked with Kevin extensivley for about a year now -- primarily on the iView Multimedia acquisition.  So I'm probably qualified to say that Kevin is perhaps one of the nicest people you will meet in our industry.  He's smart, thorough, and a class act.  So, I encourage you to check out his blog.  He has some good things to say, he'll entertain you, and he's very likely to act on your feedback when/where he can.

Next - adventures in China, Korea, and Japan - interesting places & interesting times; thoughts on our acquisition of iView & Expression Media.